The Stamp Act was the first internal tax imposed directly on American colonists by the British Parliament with George Grenville's (King George's chief cabinet minister) support on March 22, 1765.
The new tax was imposed on all American colonists and required them to pay a tax on every piece of printed paper they used. Ship's papers, legal documents, licenses, newspapers, other publications, and even playing cards were taxed.
Part of the revenue from the Stamp Act would be used to maintain several groups of British soldiers in North America to maintain peace between Native Americans and the colonists. Moreover, since colonial juries had proven reluctant to find smugglers guilty of their crimes, violators of the Stamp Act could be tried and convicted without juries in the vice-admiralty courts.
The act came at a time when the British Empire was deep in debt from the Seven Years’ War and looking to its North American colonies as a revenue source.
THE STAMP ACT
October 14, 1712—November 13, 1770, London, England
Prime minister who asked the parliament to tax the colonists
Policy of taxing the American colonies started the train of events leading to the American Revolution
The Colonists reacted immediately, declaring that the Stamp Act was an attempt to raise money in the colonies without the approval of colonial legislatures (only their representative assemblies could tax them, the act was unconstitutional). Debates took place in the colonial legislatures, written documents, and mob/crowd violence. They also feathered tax collectors to intimidate them into resigning. They were upset they didn't' have representation and were taxed without consent.
The first major action of the Sons of Liberty was carried out in Boston on August 14, 1765, in response to the Stamp Act.
Samuel Adams and the Sons of Liberty gathered under the “Liberty Tree” where the statue of Andrew Oliver, a public official in charge of enforcing the Stamp Act in Massachusetts, hung. Thousands gathered and paraded the statue through the streets of Boston. The statue was stomped-on, beheaded, and was burned. The crowd, marched on the home of Andrew Oliver. The fence around Oliver’s home was torn down, windows were smashed, furnishings destroyed, and the home looted.
As a result, on August 17, Oliver resigned his commission and on December 17, the Sons of Liberty made him publicly swear an oath he would never again serve as a stamp master.